Flamborough Head - One For The Crow

Year of Release: 2001
Label: Cyclops
Catalog Number: CYCL 108
Format: CD
Total Time: 58:09:00

If there is one band in the history of Dutch progressive rock that has done its fair share of promotion it certainly has to be Flamborough Head. Natives of the north of Holland the band had been mailing numerous copies of their demo tape long before there was even talk of their debut album Unspoken Whisper. One of the band's classic epics "Schoolyard Fantasy" had been with us for years before most of you out there could listen to it for the very first time. Add to this the band's very own Progfarm festival, where each time they are one of the performing bands, and you might understand the fact that the band suffered from a bit of "over exposure" for a while. With the same line-up the follow-up Defining The Legacy was released, as well as a limited club-edition on 500 numbered copies of Bridge To The Promised Land, which was a CD-version of the band's 1994 demo tape. Defining The Legacy was an important phase for singer Siebe Rein Schaaf, for whom the lyrics were too personal making the whole album reflect on his own life. Together with guitarist André Cents he decided to leave. At first glance it looked like all the hard work had been in vain. Looking back to the band's "Best New Band" award from the CRS in 1998, the remaining threepiece decided not to call it a day but to seek replacements. These were found in the person of guitarist Eddie Mulder (there's also an stuntman Eddie Mulder, but that's another guy, whilst "our" Eddie Mulder was a member of the band French Connection!), and singer Margriet Boomsma. Not only did they switch a male singer for a female vocalist, but Margriet also introduced flute and recorders to the band's melodic music. It is that new found energy which has been spread all over the new album One For The Crow.

It's incredible how the arrival of new band members kind of injects new blood and adrenaline into the already familiar format. Mainly based around the lush symphonic arrangements of keyboard player Edo Spanninga, Flamborough Head emphasises strong hooks and melodies, and with the addition of extra instruments their music is now heading into a direction that introduces slight folky moves, rubbing shoulders with bands such as Camel and Mostly Autumn, but sometimes also evoking the vintage sound of a band like Kayak. It strikes me that more than half of the album is written by newcomer-guitarist Eddie Mulder, illustrating that the already fully established band has full confidence in their new arrival. Full marks also to the clear voice of Margriet Boomsma getting close to that of Annie Haslam but containing a little more vibrato and often leaning towards musical. The opening title track fully establishes the band in the top regions of the current prog movement as it contains everything a prog lover can dream of, whether it's rhythmic passages or modest parts with the spotlight both on the Steve Howe soundalike guitar parts and the wonderful orchestral elements. As kind of a section between two parts there's even room for a demonstration by bass player Marcel Derix. "Old Shoes" is yet another prog extravaganza as a lot of things happen in just one song. Margriet's voice glides over an Oldfield style piano whilst synth solos alternate with superb guitar contributions. There's even a snippet which sounds like Gryphon. In fact this "medieval" type of music is all over the place during the short instrumental "Separate" illustrating the wonderful skills of Eddie Mulder augmented with a little bit of recorder to enhance the general feel.

Also "Daydreams" is a concoction of different styles with a decent amount of recorder adding to the fragile nature of it all. The crystal clear guitar of Eddie is the focal point of the short instrumental "Old Forest" which will certainly please fans of Gordon Giltrap. The guitar in the intro for "Limestone Rock" however sounds way too much like Robert Fripp's riff in "In The Court Of The Crimson King," which is a shame as so far all of the material has been very original. Imagine a cross between latter day Renaissance and Camel here with once again some superb Latimer-like guitarplaying courtesy of Eddie. There's an ambient middle section which again benefits from the fragile flute adding a dash of folk into the music. In fact it evolves into a question-answer routine between flute and guitar. The album closes with a reprise of the main theme from "Old Shoes" on acoustic guitar augmented with the equally instrumental "Pure" illustrating the versatile nature of newcomer Eddie Mulder.

It hardly happens that a newcomer gets the chance to put his mark so firmly into the music of a well established band. In the case of One For The Crow, it's mainly both the newcomers that get all the credit. Instead of just wiping away their tears, the remaining threesome of Edo, Koen and Marcel have used this opportunity to steer the Flamborough Head vessel to another harbour, as far away from the neo-prog island as possible in order to arrive at a brandnew destination which will certainly be visited by a lot of new prog-tourists.

I only hope Flamborough Head will be able to get a decent mix whenever they perform as it will be the delicate details which make up the complete picture. Yet those who have the beauty of the shining silver disc in their possession know they're in for a real treat!

One For The Crow (11:59) / Old Shoes (13:12) / Separate (1:39) / Daydreams (6:17) / Nightlife (10:05) / Old Forest (2:45) / Linestone Rock (9:58) / New Shoes : Old Shoes - Pure (2:14)

Edo Spanninga - keyboards
Koen Roozen - drums
Margriet Boomsma - vocals, flute, recorders
Marcel Derix - bass
Eddie Mulder - guitars

Bridge To The Promised Land (1994) (EP)
Unspoken Whisper (1998)
Defining The Legacy (2000)
One For The Crow (2001)
Tales Of Imperfection (2005)
Live In Budapest (2008)
Looking For John Maddock (2009)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin NL

Added: July 30th 2002
Reviewer: John "Bobo" Bollenberg

Artist website: www.flamboroughhead.nl
Hits: 1223
Language: english


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